Hello? Oh dear. Oh well, I’ll leave a message. Hello dear. You know I always love your presents, they’re always so thoughtful. That time you printed out that album of photos from my phone. I could never have done that on my own. Write Your Own Will – that was a useful book – all done now! But you know that. This year though I’m confused. Should I press this big red button on the clock?
published on www.paragraphplanet.com 27 December 2023
On the stage the lights dimmed until only a single follow spot shone. There was a restrained intake of breath as those watching saw the light was shining not where they expected, but on the donkey, who stood up on its hind legs and looked back at the audience, shading its eyes with a hoof. There was silence. The donkey dropped back to all fours and slowly walked off stage. Silence again, broken by a slowly growing wave of applause, of cheering and shouting, of wiping away of tears. Lives had changed.
inspired by the day
Some people in the jeweller’s where he used to shop seemed to recognise him so he left. In the pound store the prices were still too high. He grabbed a handful of plastic earrings from a stand and bolted. They recognised him in the pound store too. Nobody gave chase.
Written in response to a request for a tweet-length story from @ellipsiszine 16/12/21
Julia, 3 years old, is sitting on my lap
Are you Father Christmas?
No, no I’m not.
But you’ve got a white beard.
Yes, but that’s because I didn’t shave during the lockdown.
And you bring us presents.
Yes, but that’s in the summer when we visit, not at Christmas.
And you’ve got a big big belly!
Ok, you got me. I AM Father Christmas!
First day back in the office. Drifts of unwanted high-calorie gifts pile up in the kitchen. A thin Mexican wave of coughing sweeps across the open-plan office; when it reaches the meeting room door there is an expectant silence as people wonder if it will gain admittance. A second or two later than expected, they hear that it has. People smile quietly and drop tissues in the bin. Darren is still wearing his antlers.
The red star on the topmost branch is dangling a little off centre. Jon is sprawled on the rug in front of the dead fire, his head on a pillow of DVDs, his feet in a pile of chocolate wrappers. A light-up plastic penguin is peering down its beak at him.
Christmas was great, he says to himself. Christmas was great.
screams of pain
cries of joy
tears flow as his destiny is known
The list has been written
I’ve checked it once – twice
I’m deleting old posts which were naughty not nice
Self censorship is coming to town
Santa-hatted men jig side to side,
accordions balanced on bellies.
Tourists stare up at the castle and down at their phones,
scrolling through maps in their mittens.
All Iain wants is to get home from his work.
He’s wearing antlers and tinsel but his bus has been cancelled.
It’s December 11th. I was be-antlered in the office today – be-antlered, not cornuto. Too soon, everyone said. But it’s Christmas two weeks today, I said. That’s not what we mean, they said, and looked at Kieren.